A wreath laying ceremony at 11am today will mark the 21st anniversary of the line-of-duty death of Ithaca Police Department investigator Michael A. Padula. The ceremony will be at his grave site at the Calvary Cemetery on Five Mile Drive.
Inv. Padula died of a stab wound to the neck when he and other officers responded to a call for an emotionally disturbed person on November 17th, 1996. As Padula tried to convince her to drop a knife, the woman, Deborah Stagg, rushed out of her bathroom and stabbed Padula in the neck. She was shot by another officer.
The double deaths that night rocked the community and sparked a drive for community policing that put an increased emphasis on understanding the needs of the mentally ill. Hundreds of police officers and firefighters from around New York State, Governor George Pataki, and hundreds of community members attended the funeral for the slain officer at St. Catherine of Siena Church.
In 2014, the Badge of Honor Association dedicated a memorial to Inv. Padula at 514 West State Street, at the site of his death. Dozens of law enforcement officers from around the region, as well as other emergency responders and community members, attended.
Padula, whose nickname was “Pud,” has also been honored by the annual Pud’s Run, a memorial race that for years raised money for a scholarship fund in Padula’s memory that helps fund the education of local students who hope to pursue a criminal justice or law enforcement education.